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  • Writer's pictureNat Harrison

How to Challenge Imposter Syndrome

Ever been in a meeting where you find it hard to focus because that little voice inside your head is telling you all your self doubts and insecurities?...Yes? - please don't feel you are alone, most of us have been there, especially if we are ambitious and eager to climb the career ladder.

A woman struggling with Imposter Syndrome at work

That voice, referred to as 'your inner chimp' by Professor Steve Peters in the book "The Chimp Paradox," can be particularly challenging for individuals struggling with imposter syndrome.

While imposter syndrome affects people at various career stages, it's worth noting it can be particularly bad after promotions, and especially as you get more senior - I have very senior coaching clients of mine still suffering. It’s like we are given a new title, and suddenly we have to live up to something, and there is new PRESSURE to be be someone different from who we are, and overnight!

In this blog post, I delve deeper into the concept of 'taming your chimp', explore what imposter syndrome is, and discuss effective strategies to overcome it.

Understanding Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is that nagging feeling of not being good enough despite evidence of your competence and achievements. It's like a sneaky imposter, sitting on your shoulder trying to convince you that you're a fraud. You're not alone in this experience, imposter syndrome can affect anyone, regardless of their job title or experience. The first step to overcoming it is to recognise its tricks and become more aware of the impact it can have on your self confidence.

The Chimp Paradox: Quieting the Inner Critic

Professor Steve Peters explains that the inner chimp represents our emotional and impulsive side, often responsible for self-sabotaging thoughts. Taming the chimp involves gaining control over these negative thought patterns. While the concept of the inner chimp may be especially relevant for senior clients, it applies to anyone experiencing imposter syndrome. By learning to manage and quiet the inner critic, you can growth confidence and focus on your strengths and capabilities - WHAT YOU CAN DO!

Steps to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

1. Embrace Self-Reflection: I encourage you to recognise your accomplishments and acknowledge your skills. By documenting achievements and positive feedback from colleagues, you can build a repository of evidence that counteracts self-doubt and have that conversation with yourself to bring about balanced thinking.

2. Cultivate a Growth Mindset: To adopt a growth mindset, involves seeing challenges as opportunities for growth and embracing the concept of continuous learning. This mindset allows for a shift - there is no pass or fall, no making the grad or not.. by accepting your are on a learning path, as Carol Dweck, who coined the term "Growth Mindset" says "YOU ARE JUST NOT THERE YET!!!". Adopting this mindset allows you to approach new tasks with confidence and resilience.

3. Challenge Negative Thinking: Challenging your self-defeating or self-depreciating thoughts, by first listening to them, writing them down and then questioning their validity is the first step to overcoming imposter syndrome. Replacing negative thoughts with more balanced and reframed ones will help you negotiate with your inner voice, to see yourself in a more realistic way. By reinforcing balanced thinking with positive affirmations, you will start to feel, think and act differently and build your self-assurance.

4. Seek Support: It's tough to self reflect alone - seek support from trusted friends, mentors, therapists, peers, or coaches. Engaging with a supportive network can provide guidance, offer different perspectives, and remind you that you are not alone in your experience.

3 Practical Tips for Sounding Out Your Chimp - tried and tested not only by me but my clients as well

‌1. Practice 4-7-8 breathing before meetings / presentation / interviews or when you are anxious - this will calm your nervous system and allow your chimp to remain still or even go back to sleep.

2. If your chimp chimes in with an unhelpful thought, try to distract yourself by counting objects around you - e.g. all the chairs in the room or wedding rings or pens... counting helps to bring your back into the present moment and back into the room.

3. Keep reminding the chimp.- THIS MEETING IS NOT ABOUT YOU! You are only there for a business objective - focus on the topic of the meeting and not who is in the meeting ... this can alleviate the need to speak just because you need to say something (anything!) or try to impress someone like your bosses boss.

A woman happy and thriving at work

Imposter syndrome can affect individuals across various professional levels. Understanding the concept of "taming your chimp" and recognising the presence of imposter syndrome are crucial steps toward overcoming it.

By embracing details self-reflection, listening to what the chimp has to say, cultivating a growth mindset, challenging negative thoughts, and seeking support, you can reclaim your confidence and thrive in your personal and professional lives.

Remember, overcoming imposter syndrome is an ongoing journey, but with determination and the right strategies, it is possible to quieten the inner chimp and achieve your true potential.

You no longer want your confidence to keep holding you back?

I know imposter syndrome inside out - I come from a working class family and was brought up in a single parent on a council estate.

The odds were probably against me obtaining a masters degree in Nuclear Physics and becoming a Vice President in The City of London bank but I have never let where I come from or my lack of self belief hold me back.

I know how crippling self-doubt and feeling like an imposter can be and have had to overcome my old beliefs and replace them with new ones.

Helping my clients have fulfilled careers or successful businesses, and improving their self-worth and confidence is where my true purpose lies.

If you are struggling with any of these issues, why not take the first step now and reach out

=> book a complimentary consultation with me, and I can identify how I can assist you in moving towards a calmer, more confident and ultimately more fulfilling work life.

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